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The View from Chickweed’s Window

Author: John Holbrook Vance
Year written: 1959(?)
Author’s age at the time: 43
Year published: January 1979
Publisher: Underwood-Miller
Genre: novel, mystery

From the book’s blurp:

In the aftermath of World War II, 8-year old Luellen Enright is orphaned and shipped to San Francisco and the care of a covetous aunt, over-friendly uncle, and adolescent male cousins.

Her only friend is a neighbor boy—the sickly and eccentric “Chickweed”, who writes in his “Book of Dreams” and makes home movies.

Quotes:

In the year 1907 a curious adventure befell Harry Botham, partner in the firm Botham and Brewer, Commercial Factors of Shanghai.
    Returning early from a party Botham surprised a trio of robbers in the act of looting his house. His small daughter Flora lay trussed and gagged as a preliminary to kidnapping; the amah huddled on the floor moaning. By the wall stood the house-boy, a dagger pinning his ear to the woodwork.

Lulu dressed swiftly in a neat gray suit, drove across the bridge, to San Francisco. She followed the Embarcadero past Fisherman’s Wharf into the Marina, and presently parked on Sherwood Street. A single block downhill from Belvedere, with its fashionable mansions and green old gardens, Sherwood Street was unabashedly lower-middle class.